Focus on the World Cup

With Harambee Stars’ dream of playing in the 2022 Africa Cup of Nations Finals no more, the national football team now turn their focus to the 2022 World Cup Africa qualifiers due to start in June this year. Kenya face a tough battle in Group E that also has Mali, Uganda and Rwanda in their group.

The winners in the 10 groups will proceed to the third round with the teams drawn into five home-and-away ties, where the top team in every tie will advance to the Finals in Qatar.

Harambee Stars might have put up a lackluster show at Afcon qualifiers that saw their rivals Egypt and Comoros qualify. Coach Jacob “Ghost” Mulee’s charges still have a good chance of qualifying for Qatar but if they believe in themselves and, most importantly, Football Kenya Federation (FKF) put in place both the short- and long-term plans for the contest.

They have minimal chances of qualifying based on their failure to make it to the 24-team Africa Cup of Nations finals but that can only be done if FKF, the corporate world, the government and other stakeholders pull together.

Players and the technical bench will need good training atmosphere, which includes good remuneration and facilities. However, they must convince their sponsors that they are up to the task and enthusiastic to being home the desired results.

The only time Kenya came close to qualifying for the premier global contest was during the 1998 World Cup Africa qualifiers, where they fell one win short. After drawing Nigeria in Nairobi 1-1, they only needed to beat the Super Eagles away but lost 3-0. They then beat Burkina Faso 4-2 away but still finished third in the group behind Nigeria and Guinea. Only one team qualified from the group: Nigeria joined South Africa, Tunisia, Morocco and Cameroon in the Finals in France.

The current crop of players do not seem good enough for a sustained campaign at the  top level. Serious recruitment structures need to be put in place by FKF with Mulee being allowed to go around the country to scout for talent.